What one bullet did to 8-year-old Cooper Roberts, among dozens shot at Highland Park Fourth of July parade
“He is in a great deal of pain — physically and emotionally — especially as the family had to share with him the devastating news that he is paralyzed from the waist down,” his family said.
The bullet that hit 8-year-old Cooper Roberts in the mass shooting at Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade tore a “very perilous” path through his small body.
It caught his liver and esophagus, severed his spinal cord and caused so much internal bleeding that doctors had to take extraordinary measures to save his life.
Despite the horrific injuries, his doctors said Sunday that Cooper’s condition has been stabilized. He was scheduled for more surgery Monday at the University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital.
“He is in a great deal of pain — physically and emotionally — especially as the family had to share with him the devastating news that he is paralyzed from the waist down,” Cooper’s family said in a written statement.
Cooper’s twin and “best friend” Luke also was wounded, struck by shrapnel in his leg. Their mother, Keely Roberts, who is the superintendent of Zion Elementary School District 6, was shot too, suffering leg and foot injuries.
Seven people were killed and dozens injured when Robert Crimo III allegedly fired two quick bursts from an assault-style rifle.
The bullet that struck Cooper entered his upper abdomen, just below his diaphragm, “not his chest as originally believed,” according to the doctors, who said it damaged the left side of his liver, his esophagus and his abdominal aorta. That last injury was so bad that the doctors had to replace a section of the large blood vessel with a “synthetic graft in an adult size so he can grow into it.”
A hole in his esophagus was sewn closed, and the portion of his liver hit by the gunshot was repaired. The surgery planned Monday was for more repairs on his esophagus.
Cooper’s abdomen was temporarily kept open with a “specialized vacuum dressing” because of the “severity” of his wounds and the number of blood transfusions he underwent, according to his family.
They said the bullet exited his back, severing his spinal cord. While he is paralyzed from the waist down, Cooper suffered no brain damage and has experienced no effect on his cognitive function, according to his doctors.
He was able to breathe on his own and speak by Friday after being kept on a ventilator for four days. He remains in serious condition.
“The family wishes to acknowledge and thank the many, many people — emergency medics, police, fire department, nurses and doctors and both hospitals — who did extraordinary things to save Cooper’s life,” their statement read.
A GoFundMe for Cooper’s long-term care was started by friends. It has raised more than $1.2 million.